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Ryne Sandberg

Ryne Sandberg

Position(s):
2B, SS, 3B, DH
Nicknames:
Ryno
Born:
September 18, 1959
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 1"
Weight:
175 lbs
Major League Debut:
9-02-1981 with PHI
Allstar Selections:
1983 GG, 1984 GG, 1984 ML, 1984 MVP, 1984 SS, 1985 GG, 1985 SS, 1986 GG, 1987 GG, 1988 GG, 1988 SS, 1989 GG, 1989 SS, 1990 GG, 1990 SS, 1991 GG, 1991 SS, 1992 SS
Hall of Fame:
2005

Intro

Dallas Green stole Ryne Sandberg from the Phillies in a January 1982 trade, and in the process he filled the second base spot for the Cubs for 16 seasons. Sandberg won the 1984 National League Most Valuable Player Award, batting .314 with 200 hits, 114 runs, 19 homers and 84 RBI from the #2 slot in the order. An excellent second baseman with amazing range, Sandberg won nine Gold Gloves. Sandberg couldn't escape the Cubs' post-season hex however, losing in both tries to get to the World Series. But he did bat .385 with seven extra-base hits in 10 playoff games. A ten-time All-Star, Sandberg shocked Chicago fans when he retired following the 1994 season due to personal problems. But he returned two years later and broke Joe Morgan's career record for most homers by a second baseman.

Unform Number

#37 (1981), #23 (1982-1994, 1996-1997)

Replaced By

Ultimately, in 1998, the year after Ryno's last retirement, the Cubs replaced him with Mickey Morandini. After his first retirement, in 1995, the team had used Rey Sanchez at the keystone.

Best Season

Sandberg had other years (namely 1990), where his offensive stats were gaudier, but in 1984 he carried the Cubs to the post-season. On June 23, Sandberg exploded to drive in seven runs, winning the game for the Cubs 12-11 with consecutive homers off Bruce Sutter in the ninth and tenth innings. Opposing manager Whitey Herzog said, "One day I think he's one of the best players in the NL. The next day I think he's one of the best players I've ever seen."

Factoid 1

Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg was named for former relief pitcher Ryne Duren.

Factoid 2

Brady Anderson, Barry Bonds and Ryne Sandberg are the only players to have both a 40-homer and 50-stolen base season in their careers.

Transition

June 6, 1978: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft; January 27, 1982: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies with Larry Bowa to the Chicago Cubs for Ivan DeJesus; November 5, 1996: Granted Free Agency; November 27, 1996: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs. It wasn't a short-term loss for the Phillies, who won the 1983 NL pennant, but in the long-run it was a terrible deal for Philadelphia. Former Phillies manager Dallas Green, the Cubs' GM, used his inside information to nab Sandberg.

Strengths

Defensive range: for his career at second base, Ryne Sandberg's range factor (plays made per game) was 5.10, compared to a league average of 4.47 for players at that position.

Weaknesses

Sandberg was just above average in games played away from friendly Wrigley Field. He hit .267 with a .404 SLG percentage in road games for his career, and .307 in cozy Wrigley with very good power and a slugging percentage of .509. He shouldn't be penalized for taking advantage of his home park, but it's worth pointing out.

Feats

In 1989, Sandberg eclipsed Joe Morgan's record for most consecutive games at second base without an error. In 1990, he stretched the streak to 123 games before making a miscue... Sandberg hit 277 homers as a second baseman, the most in baseball history at the time of his retirement... Sandberg hit 40 homers in 1990, joining Rogers Hornsby as the only second basemen to reach that level, up to that time.

Sandberg vs. Whitaker

Ryne Sandberg entered the 2005 Hall of Fame election cycle as one of the leading candidates for selection. In his first year on the ballot, in 2003, he received 244 votes, or just below 50%. In 2004, Sandberg vaulted to 309 votes. His second base contemporary, Lou Whitaker, appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2001 and received 15 votes. With less than 5% of the votes cast, Whitaker was removed from eligibility forever by the baseball writers. During their careers, Sandberg achieved more notoriety than the quiet Whitaker, earning 10 All-Star selections and nine Gold Gloves, in addition to an MVP Award. Sweet Lou won three Gold Gloves, was selected to the All-Star Game five times, and was Rookie of the Year in 1978. Whitaker played on the better teams, Sandberg played in a ballpark well-suited for his game. Whitaker had trouble hitting left-handers, while Ryno was an average offensive player away from Wrigley Field. Sandberg unquestionably had better range, in fact he may have had the best range of any second baseman in the last 50 years. Whitaker had the best arm of any second baseman in recent memory, with the possible exception of Manny Trillo. Sandberg was converted to a #3 hitter in his prime and responded by racking up RBi's. Whitaker was converted to a leadoff role and scored as many as 90 runs six times. Sandberg never won a World Series, Whitaker was the leadoff man and catalyst of a dominant World Championship team. Sandberg was handsome and adored by female fans. Whitaker was aloof and rarely spoke a word to the press. Sandberg is white, Sweet Lou is black. Sandberg was given credit for being a hard-working player who strived to improve his game. Whitaker was knocked for not getting more out of his incredible god-given talent. Sandberg played in Chicago, which tends to love their teams, win or lose. Whitaker played in Detroit, a city that has a terrible PR problem. Every spring, someone would predict that this was the year Whitaker would win the batting title or have a bust-out season. Sandberg won the MVP Award and a home run title and finished in the top-five in MVP voting three times. If we look at the two players statistically, Sandberg did more of the things that HOF voters like: driving in runs, hitting .300 and winning awards. Whitaker always seemed to fall just short of magical numbers like 100 runs scored, or a .300 average, trhough he got on base more than Sandberg because he was a very patient hitter. Whitaker had a reputation as a clutch hitter, and his career batting stats with runners-in-scoring position are better than his overall stats, while Ryno's are just about the same. Both players were excellent and rank in the top 15 at their positions all-time. But Sandberg wins on the intangibles, and his performance in award voting throughout his career should have been a sign that he would get far, far more support in HOF voting than Sweet Lou. But Whitaker's one-ballot dismissal was probably the worst voting snub in HOF balloting history. The divide between these two players is not that great, and an argument could be made that Whitaker was a better player. That argument might be wrong, but it wouldn't look all that silly.

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Tagged:
1984 NLCS, Baseball History, Chicago Cubs, Gold Glove, Hall of Fame, MVP, Ryne Sandberg, secondbase

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